Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A bit of running

I think I'll throw some running into the blog. I had a wonderful weekend of orienteering in Western Massachusetts this past Memorial Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday, allowing Monday for recovery and remembrances).   Here are the maps I ran on, showing the routes that I took on 4 different courses.  The first two were national ranking courses.  The sprint at UMass-Amherst and the "farsta" at Mt. Tom were just for fun.

The course level I typically run is called Brown, which is the shortest advanced-level orienteering racing course. This weekend there were X and Y courses (for the men and women) because we use interval starts and creating two courses shortened the start window. I had very good runs on the first two events with no bumble-headed searching for controls, and finished well in my age group (limited as it was :-) ). These races were held on parkland near Hadley and Amherst, MA, in warm, humid conditions.

The third course was a sprint on the campus of UMass at Amherst, later in the day after the first two courses. I was tired and hot and starting to get headachy from the humidity and probably hydration imbalance, but ran well (though not quickly) except for one hesitation at checkpoint 7 where I wasn't sure where the point was in relation to the staircases.

The final course, on Sunday, was a mass-start race that involved a map exchange (after checkpoint 8). There were a total of 16 different variations used by the 45 or so doing the course I did (medium length). By the end of the race we had all run the same "legs" (i.e., between the same checkpoints in the same direction), but we did them in different orders. The purpose was to split everyone up so that following another runner was discouraged, since everyone had started at the same time. You never knew who was on your particular forking arrangement (turns out there were three others besides me).  Again, I only really made one mistake (my number 14) where I headed in the wrong direction, but relocated off the ditch. Again, it was hot and humid, so I mostly walked this "race," but I was still happy to finish close to my prediction of around 2 hours.

These aren't track races, so forest conditions and climb come into play to slow you down.  I traveled 8.4 km over the 6.3 km (straight line between checkpoints) course, taking the around route rather than the "up and over" route because climbing is not my strength in this sport.

Since I've been participating in orienteering for over 20 years, it's always a social reunion to go to an event like this -- it's fun to catch up with my competitors and other folks who enjoy this crazy sport.

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